Friday, May 9, 2008

About Image

We decided on the theme of image for our final issue of NYC24 because New York is obsessed with image—both personal and public.

We caught New Yorkers stealing glances at themselves in plate glass windows and half-empty subway cars. We watched them pluck the most healthful-looking products from grocery shelves and apply makeup before begging for a job. We listened to they way they cheered for presidential hopefuls and examined foreign lands and unfamiliar cultures.

In 11 stories, our reporters uncovered the places where perception and reality conflict. We probed the boundary between where a person's image ends and where his or her identity begins.

by Sydney Beveridge

As the issue unfolded over the last month, we began to see the world as a series of images cascading, one behind the other, layers of an infinitely complex onion that as reporters, we had pledged to peel.

Like anything worth doing, it wasn't easy. We canvassed Staten Island, lost tapes of DMC of Run DMC rapping against domestic violence and for NYC24, gawked at hot pants, flirted with getting a Mohawk, learned how to scrum and nearly fainted while filming eye surgery.

But all the sleepless nights were worth it, just to bring our readers this issue, which digs beneath the image of New York.

Here's a gloss of our issue...enjoy!

Lisa Biagiotti
Executive Editor

Lizzie Stark
Managing Editor

Photo: Yian Huang/NYC24

Commentary on Digital Images

Since is a pioneering online publication, I wanted to explore how technology has impacted images, specifically digital photography. I asked three image experts about the topic. They shared their perspectives on the creation and distribution of digital images.

Please click here to listen to the story.

(Or download the audio here.)

Find out what documentarian Clayton Patterson keeps in all these boxes.

Flip through photo albums with Martie McNabb of Memories out of the Box.

Learn what Barbara Taranto is digitizing at the New York Public Library.

An Imageless Overview of the Image Issue

For an aural taste of the image issue, check out our audio story guide.

Click here to listen to samples from each story.

(It is also downloadable here. )

In addition to listening to samples and reading about images, please visit the site to see the entire image issue.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Seeking Men to Fight Domestic Violence

I haven't posted much recently and that's because for the past few weeks I've been working full gear on this story. It's about how the images being put forward by people working against domestic violence have changed in recent years: now the effort is more inclusive of men. As fun as it is to do videos about Chinatown garbage tours and Scottish dancing, it is also incredibly rewarding to work on some more serious issues every once in a while.

I've met some amazing people - men like Daniel Jose Older, a paramedic who was so sick of bringing beat up women to the hospital that he decided to become an anti-violence educator, and singer Michael Bolton, who founded an organization that supports women and children at risk of poverty and abuse (photographic evidence below)... as well as many others who unfortunately didn't make it into the final story but certainly helped me understand the issues a lot better. Like Quentin Walcott, who runs a whole team of anti-violence educators at CONNECT, and Stephanie Davidson and Linnea Hincks, two very bright students at Columbia and Barnard who also helped me unpack some of the concepts behind feminist theory and gender violence.

I'd love to hear what you think about my story, so feel free to post comments below. I'm also probably going to be adding another blog post or two in the next few days about other interesting things that didn't make it into the story, so stay tuned for updates (and previous posts).

Israel remakes its image at 60

Israel remakes its image at 60 looks at the efforts underway in New York City to promote an image of Israel that is not related to the many conflicts in which Israel has been, or continues to be, involved.

As it turns 60, leaders in the Israeli and Jewish community have been involved in different projects to show Israel as modern and multicultural. The picture above shows one of the "Faces of Israel" banners being installed along Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, between 47th to 96th Streets. The one below shows another of the banners. Other efforts include blogs, pages on Facebook, MySpace and YouTube, lectures, film festivals and tourism ads.To see more faces of Israel, beyond those on the banners, visit "The Face of Israel Today" on the Israel21c site.

My project also includes the image of Israel that Esti Tsal sees, a volunteer with MachsomWatch (meaning Checkpoint Watch). Every week she visits the checkpoints in the West Bank to document the interactions among settlers, Israeli soldiers and Palestinians. She dreams, she said, of a day an Israeli leader will remove the soldiers back within the pre-1967 border, or the Green Line, and end what is called the occupation.

In the May 8, 2008 New York Times, Ethan Bronner reported, in his story, "At 60, Israel Redefines Roles for Itself and for Jews Elsewhere," that a conference next week in Israel involving 700 guests will look at a spectrum of issues that relate to Jews and Israel, including Israeli accomplishments, climate change, terrorism and Jerusalem's sovereignty. Israel is a melting pot of people, of ideas, history, accomplishments, failures, disillusionment and hope. And so, Israel has many images as it turns 60 today.

Gay homeless youth keep up appearances

The teenage years can be particularly rocky for young adults who wrestle with the images they want to project to the world. But when a young person struggling with sexual orientation or transgender issues has no family or community support, an already fragile self-image often shatters.

More than 3,800 homeless young people lived in New York City last year, according to a survey conducted in 2007 by the Empire State Coalition, an advocacy group devoted to the rights of homeless youth, runaways and street youth. Sixty-two percent of that group identified themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or unsure.

The multimedia story Gay homeless youth keep up appearances by Jay Corcoran appears in the Image issue of

From Shelter to Office on Staten Island

On Staten Island, homelessness now hides behind shelter doors, walks in designer clothes and carries cell phones. Many homeless people are working-class, college graduates, parents or the elderly, according to Project Hospitality, a private nonprofit organization that operates the borough's homeless shelters and many food assistance programs.

Homelessness has blended into Staten Island communities that still hold on to the image of the drunken or mentally ill nesting in the ferry terminal and don't "see" the new image.

Contrary to the worn image of chronic homeless people, today they are either close to finding a home, or on the verge of losing one. Almost 62,000 Staten Islanders eat at emergency food programs--up 300 percent since 2004, according to Hunger Safety Net 2007, a report produced by the Food Bank for New York City.

The multimedia story, From Shelter to Office, A New Class of Homeless Grows on Staten Island, by Lisa Biagiotti and Tom Davis appears in the Image issue of

Struggle on the street

As I reported for my project on Israel's image at 60, I looked for people unrelated to the conflict in the Middle East who would have something to say about the country's image. No members of the Jewish/Israeli or Muslim/Arab communities because their responses would be expected. I wanted to hear both critical and supportive comments from people on the streets of New York.

In a city whose Jewish population is almost as large as the entire Jewish population of Israel (the latter is 5.5 million), most don't feel comfortable criticizing Israel in front of a camera.

I came across two people who were not pleased with Israel's image, but they did not wish to be filmed. The individuals in this piece agreed to be interviewed on camera. I debated making this video because I lack a contrary voice. But I made the video to thank them for participating with their time and their comments.

Amal, who is from Beirut, became my exception to my rule above. Her comments were so inspirational I couldn't not include her. If someone from Lebanon can believe in peace and has hope for the future, then I can, too.

Broadening the Image of the Middle East Through Business

My story is about efforts to broaden the image of the Middle East in the United States and focuses on the Arab American Business Fellowship, a privately-financed program meant to promote respect and a better understanding among the Arab and American peoples.

The fellowship gives young Arab business people the chance to work with U.S. companies in New York, Iowa and D.C. for three weeks and, beginning this year, will also allow American fellows to work with Arab-owned businesses in the Middle East.

The story's multimedia elements explore the image that New Yorkers have of the Middle East and the ways in which the fellowship changed Americans' and Arabs' perceptions of each other.

Efforts to broaden the image of the Middle East in New York, New Jersey and Los Angeles

My story for this issue focuses on a fellowship that gives young Arab business men and women the chance to work with American companies in New York, Iowa and Washington D.C. for three weeks with the idea to foster respect and understanding between Arab and American societies. During my research I have come across other efforts to reach a similar goal:

1) The first one was written about in today's New York Times. It is a story about young American Muslim performers and filmmakers who are trying to change the image of Islam through postings on and similar Web sites. "Why Islam," a YouTube video, was done by Ali Ardekani, a 33-year-old Muslim living in Los Angeles, and explains his reasons for converting to Islam. "I am a Muslim" is another example:

2) New Jersey's Arab American community, with the support of Governor Corzine, has been trying to establish the Arab-American Heritage Commission for a few years now. If approved, this effort within the state government would disseminate information about the community to state organizations, and public and private schools and corporations. Ahmed Soliman, an opinion writer for New Jersey's The Record, wrote a column about it recently.